business news in context, analysis with attitude

Albertsons said on Friday that it has signed a three-year deal with Microsoft that will apply the latter’s artificial-intelligence technology to its business and could lead to the development of checkout-free stores.

CNBC points out that Microsoft “is taking full advantage of the growing fear of Amazon.” In just the past month, Microsoft has signed separate deals with both Kroger and Walgreens Boots to bring its technology expertise to their retail businesses.

The deal with Albertsons will make “Microsoft Azure the grocer’s preferred public cloud,” the story says, adding, “Albertsons chose Azure to be its primary cloud because of its experience with big companies, history with large retailers and strong technical capabilities, and because it isn’t a competitor … While Azure is a distant second to Amazon Web Services, it’s winning large retail customers who are seeing Amazon’s dominance in commerce expand by the day.”

Anuj Dhanda, Albertsons’ CIO, says that “Amazon’s expansion has hastened his company’s efforts to modernize its infrastructure and in-store experiences.” He says that while Albertsons might not have developed the technology in the same way as Amazon has, the deal with Microsoft gives it the ability to deploy technology that Microsoft already is developing.
KC's View:
It is extraordinary to see the kind of traction that Microsoft has gotten in just the past month … putting its technology at the service of retailers who understand the threat and the need to do something about it, as well as to reinforce the credibility of their brands.

Good news - I’m scheduled to do a session at the upcoming National Grocers Association (NGA) convention in San Diego in which Marty Ramos, Retail Technologist -Worldwide Retail with Microsoft, will talk about “Technology's Role in the Bricks-And-Mortar Revolution.” Hard to imagine a better time and topic …